Yesterday, I wrote about what I wanted out of the year and how it had gone, and yet, within that post is also the hope for the coming few months, for the coming year. Isn’t it funny how we, as educators, already start to plan for the “new” year already in the spring?
And so with only a few precious weeks left, I wanted to once again share what my Must-Do’s for the year are in case anyone else wants a few ideas.
I plan on surveying my students. While our school does both a home and student survey, I also need to know what I can work on. Every year, the words of my students help me shape the experience to come. Every year, the words of my students help me grow as an educator. Don’t let the kids leave without helping you grow. To see this year’s survey, paper copy go here – I will do it as electronic version as well, to see that go here
I plan on keeping certain experiences and make a map. Looking through the year and reflecting on what really worked, whether it was a lesson, an idea, or simply a moment, helps us think of the year to come. Don’t let this year end without you realizing what worked. Whether you go through lesson plans or simply write a bullet list, take note so that when the time comes for your ideas to come back, you have a place to start. We have started as a team to create our map for the upcoming year, this helps us plan and discuss what we want our students to experience with us.
I plan on face to face collaboration. Our district believes in paying teachers to collaborate over the summer, which I plan on once again taking advantage of. So as I take on a new class next year (Enriched English), I plan on spending time with those who know more than me. I am so grateful for this opportunity for concentrated learning.
I plan on getting rid of certain lessons. While our experience inevitably changes year after year, there are also certain things that despite our best intentions simply didn’t work. So I am getting rid of them both physically and mentally. Goodbye feedback tracker! Goodbye reading rate tracker! Goodbye to you so that I can make room for better things.
I plan on freshening up the room. Every year, i do revamp of our room, but this year I get to move rooms altogether to a larger room with more room for all of our books. So not only do I get to go through everything, but I also get to set up a whole new experience for the students. However, if I wasn’t moving, I would still move furniture, go through files, weed books, and just refresh everything. While we don’t have a lot of fancy furniture, these small changes help keep the pride in the room intact which shapes the experience.
I plan a focus. This summer, I get to both teach others and learn from others and so I need a focus. Where does my craft need to grow? Writing continues to be a focal point, as well as the hard work of equity and social justice. And so I go to conferences with a few goals in mind. I read PD books with these goals in mind. I reflect, invent, and write down ideas with these few goals in mind. In the past, when I have had a broad focus, I feel I have learned little, but when I have a few questions in mind, such as how will I continue to help students understand their role in the world or how we will we create more meaningful writing experiences that will help students reignite their writing identities, then I leave summer with a few tangible ideas that shape our experience together. Some of these books are re-reads, others are brand new and I cannot wait to let the work of others shape the every day work I get to do with students.
I plan a break. Teaching is amazing, it is my favorite thing to do as far as work., but it is also exhausting, heartbreaking at times, and hard. So summer is time for a break, and not a kind of break where I still work, but one where I feel no guilt for not checking my email. Where I feel no guilt for reading whatever I want even if it is slightly trashy. Where I feel no guilt for not checking in, creating something, or coming up with new ideas. But you have to plan for it or it won’t happen. We know how consuming teaching can be, how it can spill into every part of summer, but don’t let it. Allow yourself to detach completely so that you can get excited. So that you can let ideas marinate in the back of your mind. So that you can remember what it means to have a life, if even for a little bit, outside of teaching. Because if you never leave, then you cannot get ready to come back.
Summer is a break. A much-needed one for many. But it is also an incredible time to become something more than what we ended as. To remember why we entered teaching. To get excited, to catch up on sleep, and to become the very best version that we can be of ourselves so that when September rolls around, or whenever our students come back, we can say, “I am so glad you are here,” and truly mean it.
PS: In case, you missed the announcement, I am running a book study of my first book Passionate Learners this summer in the Passionate Readers Facebook group. You should join us as it kicks off next weekend!
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.